Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District

703-324-1460 TTY 711
12055 Government Center Parkway
Suite 905, Fairfax, VA 22035
Willie Woode
Executive Director

You and Your Land: A Guide for the Potomac Watershed

You and Your Land book cover

This hands-on publication is packed with practical information designed to aid homeowners in the economical care and maintenance of their property. It provides a simple step-by-step approach to solving common problems found in most yards, gardens or common areas.

Climate zones in Virginia1. Climate and Local Conditions >>

Find out how our home landscapes are directly influenced by local climate and geology.

Soil profile2. Soils and Drainage >>

Many landscape problems are soil or drainage-related. This chapter addresses common problems related to runoff, wet areas and erosion.

Compost bin3. Landscaping and Gardening >>

Choosing plants and installing plants, pruning, composting and more are covered in this chapter.


Riparian buffer planting4. Beyond Your Backyard: Common Land, Rain Gardens, Ponds, Wetlands, Pastures, Waterfront Property, Woodlands and Forests >>

Resources for homeowner associations and others managing common lands. Management of natural areas, including ponds, streambanks, wetlands, shorelines and pastures, is also addressed.

Beneficial insects help control garden pests5. Controlling Pests >>

Environmentally sensitive management of landscape and garden pests.

6. Tools and Glossary

Tool lists give you the right tool to get the job done and a glossary helps you understand the terms used in the guide.


About You and Your Land

Virginia has a long history of interaction between people and their land, largely because of its fertile soils and hospitable climate. As early as 1705, Virginia was described as “so delightful, and desirable; so pleasant, and plentiful; the climate, and air, so temperate, sweet, and wholesome; the woods, and soil, so charming, and fruitful, and all other things so agreeable, that Paradise itself seemed to be there, in its first native luster.” (from The History and Present State of Virginia, by Robert Beverley)


Who Should Use This Book

You and Your Land is directed to the people who live within the Virginia portion of the Potomac River watershed. The discussion on soils and plants and the references cited are all specifically related to this geographic area.


How To Use This Book

This book was developed to provide an easy-to-use reference guide for you to consult when faced with the troublesome questions of creating your own private paradise. To solve an immediate problem, you must understand its cause and effect and understand its source. This book provides some background to help you do that in addition to providing economical and environmentally friendly solutions. For example, a wet basement could be the result of a stopped-up gutter or poor drainage on your land. In the chapter Soils and Drainage, you will learn how your driveway and roof may exacerbate your wet basement problem.


Planning Ahead

Your property is a piece of a larger place. Check with your local county, city, or town to ensure that any of your proposed projects are in compliance with local ordinances. Many communities now legislate how much land may be disturbed without special monitoring, when and where swimming pools can be drained, how frequently your septic tank should be pumped out, and other such activities. It is always better to ask first. You may also discover that permits are required from state or federal agencies, particularly if you are working along streambanks or near potential wetlands. Miss Utility is an important place to check as well. Many utility easements don’t show up on your plat or a plan of your property. Gas, electrical, water, and sewer service frequently serve your home from different directions, so knowing the location of one may not tell you the location of all. Names and phone numbers of agencies to contact for more information are listed in the back of the book.



Most importantly, improving your bit of paradise should be a rewarding experience. Enjoy!

Fairfax Virtual Assistant